What Makes the Most Perfect Drive in the World?
If you've just negotiated one of the UK's interminable traffic jams on the way to your destination - be it work, holiday or just leisure - then you may hanker for a journey in the future that is more of an enjoyable experience. After all, that was one of the reasons that you chose the vehicle that you drive, is it not?
So many cars offer up improvements and technology to give the driver what they promise is the best ride.
There's the traffic sign recognition, motorway lane departure warning, blind spot system and front collision avoidance system that you find on a Nissan Qashqai. How about the cruise control and speed limiter as standard on the upcoming new BMW 3 Series Saloon? Or Mazda's MZD-Connect with 7-inch colour touchscreen and Multimedia Commander that you can find in the new MX-5 and the upcoming new MX-3.
These vehicles showcase just some of the examples of how automotive technology has developed to help make our journeys all the more enjoyable.
But where in the world could you find a route that is perfect in every way when it comes to driving? And how do you work out just what it is that makes that route so perfect that you can officially call it the Perfect Drive?
Worry no longer!
The Avis Driving Ratio
Car hire firm Avis has employed someone to do all the calculations for you - as you can see from the formula that is here.
It goes without saying that this has been calculated by someone with a lot more knowledge than your average driver - and that man was quantum physicist Dr Mark Hadley, who explains that: "There are four key phases of a drive; Bends, acceleration, cruising and braking, to be precise.
"A great driving road strikes just the right balance between the phases so you get the exhilaration of speed and acceleration, whilst corners test your driving capabilities and long stretches allow you to enjoy the scenery."
And taking all this into consideration, Dr Hadley and Avis calculated the optimum balance between all the key components in order to produce what they have called the ideal Avis Driving Ratio.
This uses acceleration, velocity, bend radius and length of straight roads to calculate the ratio on the premise that the best ratio is 10:1 - which means that a road is best for the drive if you spend 10 seconds driving straight to every 1 second spent on a bend.
According to Avis, this allows a driver to make the very best use of the car's acceleration, brakes and handling, and also for Avis to produce a list of the best roads in the world.
Best roads in the world
Working with Formula One track designer Hermann Tilke and well-known roller coaster designer John Wardley, they looked at many of the roads around the world that are considered 'scenic' and produced a Top 10 - with three of the top 10 roads being right here in the UK.
At Number 1 in the Top Roads list we find the N-222 from Peso da Régua to Pinhão, in Portugal, which follows the River Douro, and achieves an ADR of 11:1 - the closest that any road was able to achieve to the 10:1 holy grail ratio. The road also offers some pretty amazing views of the terraced hillsides as you drive, which Dr. Mark Hadley considers an important part of the driving experience.
"The time spent on the straight allows for the optimum time to appreciate the surrounding scenery before moving into the next bend, whilst still giving the driver the thrill and excitement you get from a challenging drive".
In second place on the list we find (probably unsurprising) a road in the USA: Highway 1 from Castroville to Big Sur in California, which manages to achieve an ADR of 8.5:1, while the first of our three UK roads comes in in third place.
The A535 that goes between Holmes Chapel to Alderley Edge, "twists and undulates before opening into a mile-long stretch in the middle of the countryside, and passes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank" giving a great view and a drive that achieves third place, just ahead of the B3515 from Cheddar to Ashwick (which passes through the Cheddar Gorge) and a 30 mile stretch of the A591 in the Lake District between Kendal and Keswick (which comes in 7th in the world with an ADR of 14:3).
It should be noted though that the A535 is often packed full of lorries cutting through to the M6, and the scenic A591 chock full of caravans during the summer months - facts that the Avis Driving Ratio doesn't take into account!
The Perfect Drive
Obviously everyone has their own ideas about what sort of road makes the Perfect Drive, but factors need to be added in to the science calculation that are pretty intangible in order to make a final decision - if there is such a thing. After all, when you've had a really bad journey, the road that leads to your home is the Perfect Drive.
So you need to add in things like personal satisfaction, your destination, the passengers, the time that you are travelling, the other cars on the road, the weather......
Even with all these things in place, it's hard to make decisions. Personally, I enjoy the drive along the A57 Snake Pass from Glossop to Sheffield when it is a nice day and I am going to visit my daughter. At the same time, I hate the drive along the A57 Snake Pass from Glossop to Sheffield when it is cold, wet and windy...and at night.
Hence the difficulty in making the decision on a Perfect Drive, and the variances that scientific formulae cannot integrate.
After all this, it also depends on how you drive too! Check out our Guide to UK Road Law and our Guide to Vehicle Maintenance to make sure that your side of the bargain is kept to before taking on the Perfect Drive.